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New Mexico

$300M needed for New Mexico land conservation; Supporters argue for funding in budget bill

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$300M needed for New Mexico land conservation; Supporters argue for funding in budget bill


A $300 million state appropriation for land conservation across New Mexico was included in the House’s budget bill passed by the chamber and being considered by the Senate in the final days of the 2024 Legislative Session.

The money, included in House Bill 2, would send the funds to the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund create via legislation in last year’s session.

The Legacy Fund operates in two ways: the Expandable Fund will dole out $12.5 million a year to existing state conservation programs beginning in July and a Conservation Permanent Legacy Fund would invest the dollars at the behest of the State Investment Council.

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More: ‘Fundamental disagreement’ puts GOP and ‘bureaucrats’ in Santa Fe at odds for conservation

Both received an initial $50 million appropriation when they were established and the $300 million for Fiscal Year 2025 would go to the investment fund, meaning it could be transferred to the expendable fund for future projects as needed.

Supporters estimated the resulting $350 million balance would sustain current funding levels for 10 agency conservation programs until FY 2031 and would double the dollars available to the expendable fund.

They also said the money would provide matching funds for federal grants needed for work throughout the state.

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More: Record $2.75 billion in New Mexico revenue driven by oil and gas industry

“We have continued to try to bring federal dollars to New Mexico to put things on the ground for farmers and ranchers,” said Debbie Hughes, executive director the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts. “We desperately need a state fund to help match this. We could get a lot more federal dollars.”

She said using matching funds required by the federal Farm Bill passed by Congress in 2014 and signed into law by former-President Barrack Obama, New Mexico was able to bring $52 million that was matched by $102 million in federal matching funds.

She said the Legacy Fund would strengthen those efforts to gain funding for projects to improve New Mexico’s water supplies, soil health and wildlife areas.

More: $175 million in oil and gas assets bought by Permian Resources

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The money can also be used to improve facilities like dams owned by municipalities, conduct wildlife surveys and address invasive species like mesquite which impact native grasslands.

Hughes said the added funding will help the state work with landowners when their acreage is needed for conservation projects but was unlikely to involve any “large-scale” land acquisitions.

“These agencies can do it now. You can’t really blame it on the legacy fund. We haven’t seen them going after large-scale swaths of land. This is to improve natural resources,” she said. “It definitely will help farmers and ranchers. The work has to be done on somebody’s land, and in most cases it’s a farmer or rancher. All of these programs will benefit agriculture.”

More: $11B wind power project is being built in southern New Mexico

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Concerns were voiced by Republican lawmakers worried more funding and government authority on conservation could lead to the state exerting control over private landowners.

That took the form of a series of bills sponsored by New Mexico Sen. Steven McCutcheon (R-42) during the ongoing session, removing authorities of various state agencies to acquire lands for conservation.

“No bureaucrat will ever understand how to better use the land than those whose legacy is dedicated to managing it,” McCutcheon said in a statement backing his legislation.

But Gillian Joyce, government relations advocate at the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union which supported the fund, countered that the State is legally barred from buying and lands at more than appraised value, meaning it was likely priced out of large land acquisitions.

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More: Lawmakers hope to block oil wells near homes, schools via New Mexico Senate memorial

The small purchases the state could afford, she said, would not significantly impact the agricultural industry.

“If you get tiny acquisitions that the state could afford, it’s not going to take enough land out of the agricultural tax base. There’s just not enough funds to do that,” Joyce said. “The state can’t out compete people on the private market. This isn’t precluding these lands from getting purchased by private producers.”

Joyce argued the dollars would instead go to specific, existing conservation projects and agencies in New Mexico, used to maintain natural resources in the state.

More: Lawmakers look to send more state funds to clean up New Mexico’s abandoned oil wells

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“This is a great opportunity to respond to issues across our state,” she said. “Land stewardship and water stewardship require years and years of planning. Many of the programs across our state are not able to take that long, broad approach.

“We’ll know we have consistent funding for conservation across our state.”

That work could become more important amid worsening aridification of the state, and the impacts of perilous drought conditions around New Mexico, said Lesli Allison chief executive officer at the Western Landowners Alliance.

More: Feds plan prescribed burns in southeast New Mexico as wildfire season gets underway

“We’re dealing with long-term drought in New Mexico. You can really see the impacts hitting New Mexico more than any other state. “We need very much to investment in our forests, take care of our rangelands. These are large-scale projects. None of this is anything a landowner can take care of on their own.”

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Federal conservation dollars were also available in the recently passed Inflation Reduction and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs acts, and could be matched, Allison said, using some of New Mexico’s recent budget surplus brought on by surging oil and gas revenue.

But that surplus could be temporary, she said, arguing this session was the time to make the investment.

“We have the opportunity in our budget with our surplus to make this investment happen,” Allison said. “We might not get this opportunity again. We don’t know how long that surplus would last.”

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on the social media platform X.





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New Mexico

New Mexico basketball team takes down No. 22 Colorado State in final seconds

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New Mexico basketball team takes down No. 22 Colorado State in final seconds


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An absolute classic in the Mountain West.

The Colorado State men’s basketball team had a chance to steal a massive road victory at The Pit Tuesday night but New Mexico snatched a 68-66 win in the final seconds.

An absolutely mad final few minutes saw the teams trade blow after blow.

A Patrick Cartier 3-pointer with 43 seconds put CSU up 62-61 for its first lead of the half. New Mexico and CSU then traded buckets at a rapid pace.

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Isaiah Stevens hit two free throws with 7.3 seconds left to make it 66-65 CSU, but Donovan Dent quickly raced through CSU’s defense and scored an And-1.

CSU advanced the ball for an out-of-bounds play with 2.8 seconds left but Nique Clifford’s contested shot missed and the Lobos sealed the win.

Dent had 16 points (12 of them in the second half for the Lobos).

Stevens had 20 points and nine assists for CSU. Joel Scott had 18 points and 13 rebounds.

CSU plays at UNLV at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.

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Check back to Coloradoan.com/sports on this game.

Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle on X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram @Kevin_Lytle.





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How to Stream the Colorado State vs. New Mexico Game Live – February 21

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How to Stream the Colorado State vs. New Mexico Game Live – February 21


MWC foes face one another when the New Mexico Lobos (20-6, 8-5 MWC) welcome in the No. 22 Colorado State Rams (20-6, 8-5 MWC) at The Pit, tipping off at 10:00 PM ET on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

Watch college basketball, other live sports and more on Fubo! Use our link to sign up for a free trial.

Colorado State vs. New Mexico Game Info

  • When: Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 10:00 PM ET
  • Where: The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • TV: CBS Sports Network
  • Live Stream: Watch this game on Fubo

Get tickets for any college basketball game this season at Ticketmaster!

Colorado State Stats Insights

  • The Rams have shot at a 49.8% rate from the field this season, 6.9 percentage points above the 42.9% shooting opponents of the Lobos have averaged.
  • The Lobos are the rebounding team in the country, the Rams rank 345th.
  • The Rams’ 77.9 points per game are 6.9 more points than the 71 the Lobos allow to opponents.
  • When it scores more than 71 points, Colorado State is 18-2.

Catch college basketball action all season long on Fubo!

Colorado State Home & Away Comparison

  • At home Colorado State is putting up 81.9 points per game, 12.3 more than it is averaging on the road (69.6).
  • The Rams give up 66.7 points per game at home, and 70.1 away.
  • Beyond the arc, Colorado State knocks down fewer triples on the road (7.6 per game) than at home (8.1), and makes a lower percentage away (33.3%) than at home (37.2%) as well.

Rep your team with officially licensed college basketball gear! Head to Fanatics to find jerseys, shirts, and much more.

Colorado State Upcoming Schedule

Date Opponent Score Arena
2/9/2024 San Jose State W 66-47 Moby Arena
2/13/2024 @ San Diego State L 71-55 Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl
2/17/2024 Utah State W 75-55 Moby Arena
2/21/2024 @ New Mexico The Pit
2/24/2024 @ UNLV Thomas & Mack Center
2/27/2024 Nevada Moby Arena

© 2023 Data Skrive. All rights reserved.

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New Mexico

Kira Miner: Windy Wednesday ahead

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Kira Miner: Windy Wednesday ahead


We won’t see much in terms of precipitation Wednesday but it will be windy. See the latest conditions at KOB.com/Weather

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We won’t see much precipitation Wednesday but we will see windy and warm weather, especially in central and eastern New Mexico.

That is where a red flag warning is posted from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We’ll see west/southwest winds between 25-35 mph, possibly gusting to 55 mph in some places, with 6-15% relative humidity.

Temperatures will mostly be in the mid-60s through the low-80s.

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If there is any precipitation likely, it will be in the Four Corners.

Meteorologist Kira Miner explains in her full forecast in the video above.

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